Dave said it right after Jeromy Burnitz' line drive over J. T. Snow's desperate leap, which won the game:
From every turn, from the goofy lineup, to weird pitching decisions by both managers, to the Giants pulling a "Cub" by leaving twelve men on base, the Cubs had absolutely no business winning today's game.
But there it is: Chicago Cubs 4, San Francisco Giants 3.
Right there. In letters on your screen, in numbers on the scoreboard -- waving the big blue "W" flag, and in headlines in tomorrow morning's paper. The Cubs won, and by all rights, not only should they have lost, but they should have been blown out.
We'll take it. Right?
Before I continue, we started a petition in the bleachers today. Can we get LaTroy Hawkins traded to the Diamondbacks by tomorrow?
Hawkins was loudly booed again, both when entering the game and leaving -- but we should be loudly cheering him, because there really must be something about stepping on the Wrigley Field mound that just makes him serve up fat pitches.
Today, Derrek Lee was the only batter he faced, and Lee smacked a line drive single up the middle and scored the tying run three batters later when Michael Tucker -- who played the outfield at Wrigley Field in 2001, though to be fair, only six times in right field -- lost Matt Murton's fly ball in the sun. The ball was hit deep enough that it would have been a sacrifice fly anyway, but Murton got an RBI single (who the heck was scoring today's game, anyway? There were obvious errors that were scored as hits.), and how many more times do we have to see Todd Hollandsworth strike out three times and look bad doing it, before Dusty admits that Murton ought to be starting in a non-platoon role?
Plus, what on Earth was he thinking, letting Carlos Zambrano bat for himself in the seventh -- not only that, leading off the seventh? After 111 pitches? Wasn't that about the number he'd thrown in nine in St. Louis in much more sticky conditions?
Z didn't have it in the eighth and by the time he was removed, the Giants had the lead back on three straight hits. It might have been more except for what appeared to be a missed sign by Omar Vizquel on a suicide squeeze, and pinch-runner Marquis Grissom was tagged out in a rundown. Mike Remlinger, despite allowing two hits, was effective enough in getting Snow to hit into an inning-ending force play, and Ryan Dempster had an uneventful ninth, setting up Burnitz' heroics.
Actually, Felipe Alou helped set up the heroics. Lefthander Scott Eyre had allowed the hits that got the game tied up, but he also got the Giants out of the 8th inning with the score tied. But he'd gone out to the mound to start the 9th, and only after lefthanded hitter Jody Gerut was announced, did Alou come out and summon righthander Kevin Correia, who walked Gerut on four pitches. Then Jeff Fassero came in, even though Jose Macias, a switch-hitter, was up next. Macias actually did lay down a nice sac bunt, Todd Walker hit a ball hard but right at Tucker, and Derrek Lee was, of course, intentionally walked.
It was almost as if Alou was giving a gift to his old pal Dusty. Still, Burnitz had to come through with two out, and Fassero ran the count to 3-0 on him, before getting it full at 3-2, and Burnitz was ready for the fastball, slamming it into right field for the game-winner.
All of this happened after Howard and I had been discussing Burnitz with Dave, and how much we thought that Burnitz does all the little things right -- he is just a sound fundamental player, throwing to the right base, hitting the cutoff man, working counts. Sure, he's had a baserunning gaffe or two this year -- but overall, I think he's been a decent signing.
I asked Dave early on if there were ONE outfielder that he'd go acquire right now before the deadline, who would it be?
Randy Winn, he said. Winn would solve the leadoff problem, and play a good left field. He also mentioned another Seattle outfielder, Raul Ibanez. Both of these guys could probably be obtained cheaply in terms of prospects, and I might just do such a deal -- because all the other players mentioned, from Austin Kearns to Aubrey Huff, either carry too high a price tag, or are on teams (Huff) who are impossible to deal with.
I also learned that Howard had left his house at 9:30 last night, got to the game in the second inning, and stayed till the end. So did Mike. I got the requisite razzing for giving up so early -- but I'd almost literally have had to go to work right from the game. It just wasn't feasible, and thus, I missed another milestone.
You know what? Milestones are great, it gives everyone a chance to acknowledge great players and maybe get a little bit back -- I don't think I've ever seen Greg Maddux make a curtain call before, and probably never will again -- but I'd give up all those things for a World Series berth.
I think the rest of you would too.
This game, played in bright sunshine which is supposed to last the rest of the week, didn't solve the problems Jim Hendry still must go out and solve before Sunday. Nevertheless, a win is a win, and you can only get them one at a time (how'm I doing on the cliche meter?), and tomorrow is another day (BINGO!).
Till tomorrow, keep the faith, and feel the sun shining down on the Cubs, as it did on the ballpark today.